MV Lady Jean Peterson

by BobbyG

 

Chapter 9

Scott and Andrew got to the bridge and Paul updated them. Freddy and George were also on watch. They went to the chart and looked at the position. The distress call had been made 20 miles to the north east of them.

     "The only call was 5 minutes ago and nothing since."

     "Ok, send out a general call to Iceland, Norway and the Faroe's and ask them if they got the call." Scott hardly got that out when there was another call.

     "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. This is the Icelandic trawler Magnasson. We have engine failure and taking on water and abandoning ship. We are 62 degrees north...." And that was all. Scott tried to call her time and again, but nothing.

     "Marked it!" Freddy called out and they all went to the chart and also marked it on the map.

     "Freddy, turn to the mark and come back to 8 knots, we are in for a bad time. We are at least 2 hours from the Magnasson at this speed and all we can hope for is this storm lessens." They had been sailing directly into the heavy sea, but no as they turned onto the new heading, the ship was being thrown all over the place. Scott went to the radio and called the Icelandic Coast Guard reporting the distress call and that they were heading towards the ship.

     "Thank you Lady Jean Peterson, we were just about to call you. The ship only has a skeleton crew of six and is heading to Kristiansand in Norway for scrap. The Norwegian Coast Guard are aware, but both of us are out of helicopter range. Norway are flying off their Orian search aircraft and should be over the area within half an hour, but the weather is bad and very little visibility, but it’s hoped they will pick up a distress signal from the survivor suits. You are the nearest ship Captain but two others are also heading towards the site. Good luck." Scott pressed the alarm.

     "Right, this will now get very rough. Freddy I want to make as much speed as we can without ripping the ship apart, I will ask for more speed if the Jean can take it. I want all crew in survival suits. Andrew and Colin you obviously know what you will be doing and we all hope you have survivors to pull out and Reggie and Paula have them to work on, I'm not even sure we can pull anyone out if the sea stays like this. Paul, Jan and George you will get the RIB ready when I ask in case we can launch her, but I doubt it. Marcel go to the hanger when I tell you and if you can, start her up, but again it does not look good in these conditions. It will be at least an hour and a half now before we get to the search area, so after you are in your gear try and relax and all of us hope for a massive slice of luck, without it the guys are in big trouble. Jerry, let’s see just how good the cameras are, you will be our main lookout.

     The Jean was being thrown all over the place and even more as Scott asked for another two knots, but at least Andrew had forgotten his sea sickness with all that was going on. As for Scott, even though he had worked out the current and wind direction he knew he was totally in guess mode, but he headed towards the search area taking those two guesses into account for when they started their search.

     They eventually got to the search area and he had the Jean bought back to 5 knots. There was no way the RIB or the helicopter could be used and so he sent them all up on the top bridge with night binoculars to look out. Scott was now at the limit to where he had guessed the survivors may have drifted and at least he could turn into wind and the Jean became more stable as her bow plunged straight into the waves. He kept going to the camera screens, but there was nothing.

     "George come back down and operate the search lights." He arrived and switch all four on. "Okay, George you take the bridge lights and scan the sea from 90 degrees to the ship and forward and Tommy do the same with the stern lights and aft."

     They were now at the point of the last known position and Scott had to make another guess, but he was sure from what he knew and if there were survivors, he surely was in the right area.

     "CONTACT!" George yelled out. And there he was lit up in the beam of the forward search lights. Andrew and Colin flew down to the winch and with Colin at the controls and Andrew with his strop on waited for Freddy to get them down wind and as close as he could. Scott said a quiet prayer.

     The survivor was now close enough and Colin hauled Andrew up and over the side and at the same time extending the gib and placing it over the man. Colin got Andrew as close as he could and then ran the cable out and dropped Andrew from 20 feet up. He gradually took Andrew within arm’s length of the guy and they all watched as Andrew fought to get the other strop over his head and body forcing it under his arms. With a wave Colin began to raise the cable, waited until the wave was at its highest and lifted them both up and bought them onto the deck. Reggie Paula and Andrew lifted the guy into the sick bay and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. One down, five to go. They had all just received a massif boost and at the same time an even more massive slice of luck, the wind dropped so much Marcel told Scott he wanted to try and take off. Scott smiled at him and got smiled back. "Ok Marcel and don't worry if you lose her. Good luck." Jan went with him to help out.

     There was no way he could take off and hover and get up to the Bridge and so Marcel would have to fly from the hangar and fly by the small screen on the hand set. He started up and after his checks he called for Jan to open the rollup doors. He told her to stand by him and she watched as Marcel wound the engine up to take off speed and instead of pushing the helicopter out onto the flight deck, he released the clamps in the hanger took it to 5ft and then flew out and then climbed quickly over the stern fighting all the time to stay in control.

     "I'm up Skip!"

     "Great stuff, bloody wonderful. Ok fly forward of us 100 yards, but we are turning 180 and going back the way we came. Keep flying 30 degrees port then starboard."

     "Ok Skip." They continued to search for another half hour and all the while Scott thinking of his next course.

     Meanwhile Reggie called so say the survivor was in reasonable shape and not injured. "Hypothermia of course but he is responding well. But we need to find the others very soon Skip, they will not last much longer."

     "Freddy, go to 10 degrees port."

     "Skip."

     After 10 minutes like that Scott told Freddy to go to midships. "Marcel climb to 200 feet and go forward another 100 ft then do 45 degrees port and starboard. Ten minutes later:

     "SKIP! I'm over them!"

     "Them?"

     "Yes Skip there are four roped together! Follow my lights."

     It seemed to take hours, but it was in fact only a two minutes. Colin and Andrew worked brilliantly together as Colin put Andrew over the side and after the expected struggle, got the first man into the strop and both men bought on board. This was repeated three more times and although the four were in a pretty bad state they were in the best hands it was possible to be in. They would all pray that Reggie and Paula could save them.

     "Skip the wind is getting up again and I'm finding it hard to control her and my fuel is getting low as well.

     "Come back Marcel, you have done wonders."  Marcel finally managed to land after several attempts, but he made it and got the machine back into the hanger and secured the rotors. Jan hugged Marcel tight. "Well done my lovely man, you have saved four men tonight." Marcel beamed at her and also hoped Scott would hug him as well!

     Although the helicopter could not fly now, the sea was reasonable and Scott nor the crew would not stop trying to find what turned out to be the Captain even though if he was not already gone, there surly could not be much time left for him. He went back to where they had picked up the first guy and with no other plan in mind steered a course that would take them to where the four were picked up hoping that as the captain was the last to leave the ship, he would be drifting more or less on the same course as the others. It was a sheer guess and hope. It was Tommy who gave them hope.

     "I see a beacon! Ten degrees off the starboard bow!" The searchlights picked him up and for the last time Freddy took the Jean to him. Scott and the crew did not know until Andrew was lifted up he was now in the basket as they assumed that if he was found, he would almost certainly be unconscious and it would be very difficult to get him in a strop. As it was it took Andrew some time to bring him into the basket and Andrew could see he was in a very bad way.

     Scott asked Paul and Jan to go to the sick bay and see if they could help in anyway and Scott waited for Colin and Andrew to come to the Bridge. While he was waiting Marcel came on and indeed got his cuddle from the very man he wanked about most nights. He cuddled into Scott as hard as he could while Scott thanked him for his incredible work. "Well done Marcel, you were bloody brilliant!" Then Andrew and Colin came onto the bridge.

     "My hero's! Yea Gods you have done a magnificent job, we are all so proud of you and now off you go and get warmed up. I will be down in a minute." What my cabin or yours Skip?" Colin laughed out loud and went off the bridge. Scott hung on to Andrew a little longer and he left as well.

     Iceland Coast Guard were informed as they made each rescue and were pretty pleased it has to be said. "I will contact you again when I know more about the crew’s conditions, but I am guessing the Captain maybe in a bad way. I'm going below to get an update."

     "Thank you Captain and congratulations to you and your crew, we will be praying for more good news."

     Scott got to their cabin and found a naked Andrew just coming out of the shower. He went to him and wrapped his arms around his hero. "Christ you and Colin did a fantastic job Andrew. Thank you so much." Andrew just cuddled in and indeed was proud, he had every right to be, they all did. "Look sweetheart I have to go to sick bay, but you must email your family, all this could be on the news by now and they will know it’s us and will be worried. They kissed and Scott left to get to the survivors.

     Reggie and Paula were too busy, but Jan had enough information to tell him that the five were suffering with hypothermia, one had a broken leg and another a broken arm. "Reggie says he is sure they will recover and not in serious danger and don't seem to be in shock. These Icelanders are made of strong stuff it seems. I have no idea about the Captain though Scott, it’s going to be touch and go if looks are anything to go by."

     Nobody could relax and all but Reggie and Paula were on the bridge waiting for news. George and Colin had gone down to get food and drink, but nobody was that interested and they just stared out of the windows or look at one another saying nothing. Scott had contacted Iceland to give them as much information as they could. "I cannot sail at more than 8 knots to try to keep the ship a little more steady, but I am now into the wind and as soon as I can I will of course increase speed. It’s going to be a long wait and we just have to hang on for the doctor to tell us about the Skipper." It was another hour before Reggie came onto the Bridge.

     "Right Skip the good news, the five are recovering well, just a broken arm and leg for two of them, but they are in no danger and in a day or so the fit ones will most probably be up and about. Now the Captain, it’s not good and he is a very sick man. He must have either hit something trying to abandon ship, or hit something on the way down, he did not have time to put a helmet on. His head injury is serious and I already know if he survives, his sailing days are over. Paula and I have stabilized him and made him as pain free as best we can. He needs to be put into an induced coma to have any chance of survival and he has to be got to a specialist unit as soon as we can organise a pickup. I need to talk to a specialist in Iceland.

     "Can I increase speed Reggie?"

     "It will be a rough ride I guess Skip, but yes we need to get within range of a helicopter very quickly, he is comfortable enough and will not suffer any more that he is now." Reggie went over to call Iceland and organise a talk with a doctor and Scott ordered a gradual increase of speed to 10 knots.

     They all knew that luck was very much on their side, but at the same time were more than happy about the way they took advantage of it and worked so well together. This unexpected emergency showed them all what a great crew they had become. The only down side of course was the condition of the Captain, but the fact they had found him and got him onto the ship, gave him at least a fighting chance. He was about to have an even better chance as the storm at last subsided enough for Scott to go to 15 knots.

     Four hours later and with the Captain still hanging on he was airlifted off the Jean and flown to Reykjavik. Some weeks later it was recognised that the treatment Reggie and Paulina gave him, saved his life.

     Later the same day another helicopter arrived and took the other crew back to Akureyri where they had sailed from and thanking the Jean's crew for their rescue and would see the families that they were sure would be mourning them and not welcoming them back home. The following day Scott got a message asking for them to go to Akureyri to be officially welcomed and thanked for their work. Scott agreed and made arrangements to call in at Dalvik when they left Akureyri for an overnight stay before returning to Southampton. Jerry made an edited film of the rescue and sent it to William who then passed it on to all the TV news stations and the Lady Jean Peterson and her crew became quite famous for a few hours in the UK. Scott had it sent to the Iceland stations and they became famous for all time.

     There is an island opposite Dalvik called Hrisay and Scott sailed the Dalvik side of it when they passed by so he and Andrew could go down memory lane. They were sailing at 25 knots and overtook a ship Scott had seen before moored up in Dalvik the Bjorgvin, who gave out three blasts on her horn. Scott replied with three of his own.

     On the bridge of the Bjorgvin a young lad had a pair of binoculars stuck to his eyes and stared at the black guy he had seen many times on the news. They were met by a dozen small boats and escorted all the way down to Akureyri where there was a massive reception waiting for them. As they approached the harbour Scott asked for the cannons to be fired at full power and Marcel took off and stayed ahead of the Jean with the Icelandic flag slung below. All this impressed their hosts no end.

     Once they had tied up the media and politicians came on board and they did not stop shaking hands with all of them for the next three hours. They were shown around the Jean and Marcel had no problem giving his own show all of which would be on the news programmes later that day. Scott was asked for an interview and he and the crew went to the lounge while all the visitors crammed together asking a billion questions.  At last the visitors left the ship, but a lot of work needed to be done as Scott had agreed that the ship would be open from 9am to 12 noon the following day so that the public could come on board to have a look at her before they set off for Dalvik, meanwhile there were still hundreds outside the security barriers taking photos.

     "Skip there is a delivery for you." Jerry called over the intercom. He went down the gangway and took delivery of a large cardboard box and lugged it on board and opened it, 12 bottles of champagne from his father. Party tonight then. He went to the cabin and video called William and spoke for an hour going over the rescue again.

     They sat for their evening meal and did not stop talking, they were still on a huge high. It was then Scott mentioned about getting another Helicopter. "Marcel did a great job of course and having two during the rescue may not have made much difference, but I was just thinking about just how long Marcel could fly before having to come back to refuel and if we do meet any pirates with just one helicopter we could be without cover until he could get back up again. So, my thinking is to get another one and recruit another pilot, from memory I have quite a few to choose from. What do you lot think, Marcel?"

     "Good idea Skip. Can I help choose another guy?"

     "There were a couple of girls as well Marcel, I think we could do with another lady with us." Marcel's face fell and the rest split themselves.

     "I can’t say what I want to say Skip, but a boy would be very nice please!

     "I will only be taking the best Marcel regardless of sex. I remember now! Oh yes, I can’t remember her name, but she almost got taken on instead of you Marcel, she is brilliant!"

     "I still can’t say what I want Skip!" He smiled at Scott and knew he was kidding, he hoped so anyway.

     "By the way, where did this "Skip" come from?"

     "We heard Paul refer to you as that and we just followed him, not that anyone would argue with him anyway, but speaking for myself I like it, it’s good to have you called something official and at the same time informal." Colin apparently spoke for them all.

     "How about calling me that only when we are at sea?"

     "What's your name?" Andrew thought he was hilarious.

     The Bjorgvin moored up and the young lad who had been staring at the Jean as she passed, went to his skipper and got permission to leave the ship. He ran all the way home and had a shower and changed, he wanted to get to Akureyri.

 

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